Castle database devised by Limerick historian

Askeaton Castle is one of the historic buildings featured in the database.

For more than a decade, local historian Joseph Lennon has been delving into the history of Limerick’s castles and tower houses.

Now, his database – which he describes as his “brainchild” – is available to anyone curious about medieval structures in Limerick.

In partnership with Our Irish Heritage, the Limerick Castles Database is an ongoing compilation which will see around 100 castles added on a periodic basis.

From Adare to Ballyengland, Joseph’s field work has taken him to every corner of the county since 2010.

“It took me the best part of the decade because I didn’t receive any funding from any organisational body, I had to do it on my own path,” Joseph told the Limerick Post.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

The historian said approximately one hundred medieval structures are still standing in Limerick. However, in the past, there were over 400 sites, he says, making Limerick the most castle-rich county in Ireland.

According to Joseph, exploring the sites can be physically challenging.

“Most of them are deep down in the countryside and some of them are inaccessible, so you’re sometimes up to your knees in water. You’ve got to travel walls and electric fences.”

Joseph admits his adventures into Limerick’s rich past can be “spooky” at times.

“Sometimes you go to a castle and you’ve got a good feeling and everything works right. But some other times, you get a spooky feeling in there and you just can’t wait to get out. It’s usually with the ones you wouldn’t expect.”

An ongoing project, the Limerick Castles Database is a resource for all generations, Joseph says, now ready to share his brainchild with the larger Limerick community: “If the public wants to, they can contribute. Somebody might have a photograph that’s 50 years old that’s not in the public domain.”

Joseph Lennon holds an MA in History from University of Limerick, and currently he works at the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Constantly on the lookout for new challenges, the academic has also been working on a new book. The project will cover 400 castles, their history and previous owners. Joseph hopes it will be picked up nationally by a publisher.

“Most academics they rarely leave their desks, unless they’re archaeologists. Whereas I actually visited these sites. So I can speak with a little bit of authority on their conditions and beauty,” he added.